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The Grand Illusion

by Victor Saraiva



The edifice of government in the city of Newark has been built along many years like a castle of sand.  That which fashions the structure has not been the will of the people of this city, not the votes cast on election day, but rather the winds of greed and desire of powerful parasitic interests imbedded in the city. 


The current focus on the violence that has claimed the lives of several city bred college students, and the clamor for a clampdown on illegal aliens is just a smokescreen.  Several things just don’t add up when one considers that the basic problem in this city is not the presence of illegal aliens.

Let’s consider some basic facts:

1. Mayor Cory Booker was elected on a wave of promises that was to usher-in REFORM.  City residents were tired of constant increases in taxation, continued corruption, and minimal city services.  The hype of prior Mayor Sharpe James didn’t wash anymore, the stain of corruption that ultimately led to his downfall as Mayor and later as state senator was the main factor that led to the Booker ascendancy.  Booker’s promise to clamp down on city crime, and to bolster quality of life is on the line, especially since a growing group of city residents are putting together a re-call vote to dethrone the Booker administration. (1)





Prudential Center- Home of the NJ Devils hockey franchise, Newark's new arena, overshadows and displaces area homes and citizens. 

2. City government has invested heavily in the revitalization of the city’s downtown. (2) Hundreds of millions have been staked on the promise of a downtown arena bringing people and money into the city. 


3. Businesses that have invested in the city; restaurants, real estate entrepreneurs, and other ‘impresarios’ than run the gamut of power dynamics, want a bang for their buck, otherwise the ‘keys to the city’ don’t mean a damn.  Further, continued degradation may keep ‘regular’ people from investing their savings in housing stock, small business development, or from visiting the city’s retail establishments. 

The pressure on Booker and on the police leadership is enormous.   Investments are at stake, both public and private!  Therefore, the lives of citizens are not the real issue here, money and corruption are.

Yet the media coverage, reminiscent of yellow journalism is palpably sensationalistic, the lives of promising youngsters cut short by illegal immigrants no better than wild animals--thugs-- is drummed constantly in the press and on local TV.


The spreading contagion of emotionalism has even spread to the court system-- judges are withholding bail, and prosecutors are now working in concert with immigration enforcement, ICE, to rid the system of the ‘abomination’ of illegal aliens.


At the heart of the issue is also the pressure from federal authorities who seem to be following mandates from neoconservatives within the Bush mantra to crack down on immigrants.  In fact, in these last weeks such neoconservative voices have accused the Booker administration of running a ‘sanctuary city.’


A National Problem


Let’s face it, Newark is a large city, and what is happening in Newark is part and parcel of a national problem. According to the latest available figures, in 2004 for example, the gun death toll in the U.S. for children and teens alone was greater than U.S. soldiers killed in the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The death toll of young Americans reached 2,825, as per the Children’s Defense Fund report of 2007 on gun violence.  The gun death rate for blacks is statistically four times that of whites in this country. (3)


Since 1979 gun violence has proven to be the demise of 101,413 children and teens in the U.S.—that’s almost 50% of the entire population of the city of Newark.  The dead would fill over 4,000 classrooms of 25 students per classroom.  The number of black kids killed by guns is nearly 10 times greater than all the recorded lynchings, including blacks of all age groups, in American history.  That’s a travesty, that’s horrendous, and that is another facet of the issue that is being missed.

America is battling its own war at home, and few are connecting the dots. 


‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people’


‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people;’ so states the National Rifle Association slogan, but the prevalence of guns invariably facilitates violence.  According to recent statistics, there is a gun for every 9 out of 10 people in the United States.(4) That’s the highest concentration of guns in the hands of ordinary citizenry, in the world.  That’s right, in the entire world.  We are a violent society partly because of guns.


Gun manufacturers are profiting at the expense of the misery being wrought by their unbounded greed.  That greed is magnified several times over by black marketers who traffic guns into inner cities, arming gangs and drug traffickers to a degree that literally out-guns law enforcement personnel battling those very thugs.


This has to stop! 


This is the true face of the problem; guns, gangs and drugs, not illegal aliens.  (5)





































Sneakers dangling;  a gang symbol meaning drugs are sold here. The building in the background is Newark's East Side High School.


What lies beneath?


The beast that needs to be slain is not the illegal immigrant.  What needs to be tackled is the support structure that enables gang culture to persist in this city; hopelessness among the young, educational failure, joblessness, the gun lobby, weapons traffickers, and most of all drug traffickers—because the drug culture is at the heart of most crime in America. (6) (7)


But this won’t happen, because it is a long arduous fight to rid the city of such pedestals of greed and corruption. The educational structure is a failure.  If not for the manipulations in the data, and minimal state standards accepted for High School graduation, the actual failure rate would hover at 50 percent for Newark high schoolers. 


Failure in schools creates hopeless futures.  Such students fight to survive any way they can;  they become foder for gangs and many wind up being foot soldiers for organized crime.  The structure in our society that enables this to happen, that insures this to continue is built by powerful interests that profit at the expense of the misery and destruction of neighborhoods populated by the poor, by blacks and by immigrants.  Such powerful interests are organized crime, and their minions in business and politics, the parasites that are tolerated by law enforcement, because of a mix of fear, convenience and corruption within their own ranks.  Let us not forget that these streets of Newark are the same that fostered celluloid stories like those of the Sopranos. The real Sopranos still walk these streets.


No the mob isn’t gone, its still here, it always has been here, as far as I can remember, and it probably will always be, unless something is done, but I do not see the resolve in this city’s administration to tackle that issue.  The problem of corruption is deep, like a festering wound that refuses to heal, and that is the true threat to this city’s well-being—the root of many of its ills.


Victor Saraiva is senior editor at THE CITIZEN.




(1)  New Mayor Tests His Promises on Newark’s Reality

So the mayor who had vowed to change City Hall was reduced to the horse-trading and arm-twisting that defined his predecessor’s reign.

(2)  Newark is Taking Change to the Streets

(3)  Protect Children, not Guns 2007, a Children’s Defense Fund Report

(4)  United States the World Leader in Gun Ownership

(5)  Youth Gangs

Teens that are gang members are much more likely than other teens to commit serious and violent crimes.  For example, a survey in Denver found that while only 14% of teens were gang members, they were responsible for committing 89% of the serious violent crimes.

(6)  How Prohibition Affects Crime, Law Enforcement and the Press

If demand for a banned product persists after a prohibition is enacted, a criminal market is created automatically…  if there is strong demand, and the product is easy to produce and smuggle, the criminal market will quickly expand to satisfy that demand.  Owners in the criminal market are awarded a lucrative tax-free monopoly on their products.

(7)   Drug War Facts

Posted  September 05, 2007

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